For many in the legal profession, “marketing” and “advertising” are four-letter words. They signify a necessary evil that one must do in order to stay competitive in today’s dog-eat-dog world.
It’s not surprising that many feel this way, as it’s only in recent history that attorneys were finally allowed to do promotions of any sort. That being said, with advancements in technology, it is now imperative that attorneys make the effort to be marketing-relevant.
As an immigration attorney, you also have the added layer of trying to get in front of the eyes of the entire world. How can you compete when there are many others out there vying for the same market as you?
This digital marketing guide for immigration attorneys covers what you can do to increase your chances of being found by the right clients. While there is no monetary cost associated with most of these tactics, there is still an investment of time and effort. As you read through it, make a note of what you can implement today to get started and what you can implement over the long term for continued growth. Once you have finished, you will be armed with the insight and actions that will make a difference in your marketing efforts.
The Ethics of Legal Marketing for Immigration Attorneys
The marketing and advertising of the legal profession only came into practice in 1977, when an Arizona firm decided it was high time that law firms where allowed their first amendment rights through advertisements.
Today, attorney marketing is commonplace and even expected. But while the door is open to allow marketing and advertising to take place, there are still some limitations in place that lawyers must adhere to in order to not violate ethics standards. These limitations vary from state to state, so it is advisable that you check with your local bar to ensure you are within their guidelines. However, there are some rules that are consistent throughout the U.S.
- Use of the Term “Specialist.” As an immigration attorney, it is safe to say that you have a significant focus on cross-border matters. However, unless you have been officially certified in a particular practice, it is not recommended that the terms “specialist” or “specialize” be used.
- Making False or Unverifiable Claims. This one should go without saying, but steer clear of making statements that are not 100 percent truthful or that cannot be officially verified. Such statements include claiming to be the best, the most preferred, top, etc. This also applies to making a guarantee of winning a case or certain results, something you simply cannot do. Unless you can state something with absolute certainty and have the means to back it up, it is best to avoid statements such as these.
- Comparing Yourself to Other Firms/Attorneys. Simply put, don’t do it. While it may technically be true that you have helped more clients than Joe Blow Firm across town, it is considered beneath the profession to use such language.
Marketing Strategy and Plans for Immigration Lawyers
Once you have decided that marketing is a worthy endeavor for your firm, it is tempting to want to jump right in and do anything and everything you run across. But like anything that you want to do successfully, it’s important to have a strategic plan in place.
First and foremost, what are your goals, and what do you hope to accomplish? Does success look like phone calls through your website, a newsletter sign-up, or a contact form submitted?
And who exactly are you targeting? Being an immigration attorney, you can work with anyone from any corner of the globe, but that is an awfully large net to cast. Taking the time to create a marketing plan helps you address these questions and come up with pointed solutions.
But just creating the plan does not mean it will succeed. You must make an active effort to enforce the tactics laid out and ensure that you have buy-in from all those who will need to participate in order to properly execute on the plan.
Search Engine Optimization for Immigration Attorneys
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is when you make certain adjustments to your website and digital presence to improve your ranking in online search results. When you optimize your site for search engines like Google and Bing, you stand a better chance of showing up in the search results of someone seeking services like yours.
While there are higher-level technical updates that should be made by a professional web developer (e.g. h1 tags, rich snippets), there is still plenty that you can do yourself to help improve your search ranking.
- Update Content Regularly. We will go over this more in the next section on Content Marketing, but keeping your content fresh and routinely updated is a signal to search engines that you are providing quality and timely information to readers.
- Utilize Google My Business. Creating a profile through Google My Business allows your business to show up on Google Maps and other mapping platforms. As you have likely seen yourself, these listings include a link to the company website, images like logos, and general information about the business. Fill this out completely.
- Publish on Google Posts. As part of Google My Business, you can publish short blog posts to your account and showcase your thought leadership. These can even be blog posts you’ve already published on your main blog. After you have had the blog live on your website for a day or two, copy and paste the post to Google Posts and include a link back to the original posting on your site.
- Create Localized SEO. For the most part, when someone runs a search for an immigration attorney, they are looking for someone relatively close to them. Often the searches will include phrases like “immigration attorney near me” or “XYZ City immigration attorney.” To ensure you show up in searches related to your area, include mentions of this in the copy on your website. But be careful and don’t “stuff” your copy with mentions of your city – it should still read normally, as Google frowns on keyword stuffing.
- Encourage Citations and Backlinks. One of the best ways to improve your SEO is through citations and backlinks. These are when another site links back to your site. This usually happens when someone quotes you or references one of your posts and links back. You can also get backlinks when you create profiles on industry-related sites. But not just any link will help – they need to be links from other sites that Google views as quality and well-respected. We will discuss a couple of ways to get backlinks when we discuss blog posts in the next section.
- Don’t Ignore Bing. Google is far and away the leader of the search engine pack. However, you shouldn’t ignore Bing. Many Microsoft-related applications and programs automatically use Bing when running searches, so it behooves you to have a profile. Much like Google My Business, Bing Places for Business allows you to create a profile that includes a link to your site, a business address, and other information that then shows up in Bing Maps.
- Explore Bing PubHub. Similar to Google Posts, Bing PubHub gives you the ability to publish your content through a platform hosted by their search engine. To publish content here, follow the same protocol as you would with Google Posts and allow your original blog post to sit on your site for a few days and before also publishing it on PubHub, providing a link back to the original post on your website.
If you’re curious as to how your current SEO shakes out, there are plenty of online SEO graders you can take advantage of, like SEMRush, Alexa, Moz, and more (Google “website grader” and you’ll get a slew of great options, most with free trials). Each of these graders measures something slightly different than the rest, so try out a few and see what they tell you. After you have implemented some of the suggestions in this guide, go back in a few months and grade yourself again to see how you’ve improved!
Content Marketing for Immigration Lawyers
The majority of the suggestions in this guide rely heavily on quality content, so it is critical that you include content marketing in your strategic marketing plan. It’s not enough to just create content and stick it on the web; you need to have a purpose and target goals that drive your actions.
To start, you need to first decide who you are targeting. List out where they live, their demographics, and their psychographics. By knowing your audience, you can better hone the “voice” that comes through in your content and focus on speaking directly to them.
Next, list out the ways you plan to get your content in front of your target clients. There are plenty of content marketing methods out there, but none of them is one-size-fits-all. Think about how your target client consumes content and create a set of tactics. Examples include press releases, blog posts, guest posts on other sites, published articles, email newsletters, social media posts, presentations, and webinars.
Once you know who you are targeting and the methods you can use to reach them, you need to decide what sort of information you’re going to provide. (As an attorney, you, of course, have to be careful that you do not pass content off as official advice. That being said, as long as you qualify your content as general knowledge and insights, you should be fine.)
The content you create should be useful and be a resource to the reader. You may worry that by creating useful content the reader won’t have a need for the services you provide. While that may be true in some instances, when you provide high-quality information to a reader, you become top-of-mind as the subject matter expert for when they realize they can’t handle matters themselves.
The most commonly used method of content marketing is blogging. More and more, professional services providers are turning to blogging as an easy means of showcasing their knowledge and driving traffic to their websites. Plus, as stated earlier, blogging has the added bonus of boosting SEO for a website through the use of strategic keywords and phrases and quality backlinks.
The beauty of blogs is that they can be long or short, formal or informal. There’s no set template when it comes to blogging, as it is all about relaying information in a way that is meaningful to your readers. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when writing blog posts:
- Choosing Topics. The biggest issue many have is coming up with blog topics. Think about commonly asked questions you receive from clients and write about those. If you have recently read an article or seen a presentation and have your own thoughts to add on a subject, write about that. If there is a topic in the news that relates to immigration, write a post and offer your two cents.
- Using Quality Keywords. When writing, think about the search phrases one might use to find your post. Where possible, and where it makes sense, incorporate those keywords and phrases directly into the copy to help Google identify your post as a source of information on the topic. Remember, don’t “stuff” your copy with the keywords, as Google recognizes this and will actually penalize you for it.
- Blog Length. While there is no set limit to what you can write, many experts suggest writing posts that fall between 500-1000 words. However, this also depends on the topic itself. If you find 400 words gets the point across perfectly, don’t force yourself to write more just to meet that 500-word mark. Search engines want meaty posts, but they also want to suggest posts that are high quality and not fluffed up.
- Create a Great Title. The overall content is great for getting Google’s attention, but the title is what will really draw in the reader. Make certain to create a title that includes your primary keywords and appeals to the reader’s emotions to get them to click.
- Link to Other Quality Content. When citing other resources in your post, be sure to link back to them for easy reference. Google likes it when you link to other quality content. Additionally, many sites are set up to “pingback” when they are linked, which also helps your SEO.
- Don’t Forget Your Meta Description. A meta description is the short summary of the blog post that your readers will see in search engine results. Make certain to include your primary keywords and stay within the character count to ensure that what people see is a full statement and not truncated. (Currently, the recommended character count is 130 characters to ensure readability on mobile, and 160 on desktop.) This description is added on the backend during the online publishing process.
Social Media Strategy and Best Practices for Immigration Attorneys
Put simply, the more places you are, the more likely you are to get in front of the right clients. With social media, you can be in a great many places at once and increase the chances of being discovered. Additionally, search engines take into account when you have active social media accounts, which helps to increase SEO for your primary website.
Though these can be great resources to get your name out there, it’s understandable if it feels overwhelming to try to tackle all of them. If you can’t dedicate the time to properly execute on a particular platform, it’s best not to create an account on it at all. That may seem counter to this guide, but the reality is that if someone comes across your account and you haven’t posted in months, they may think you have closed shop and move on. So only choose the platforms you know you can properly devote your time to.
The great thing is that there are plenty of ways you can take advantage of social media without having to spend crazy amounts of time on them. Publish your blog posts on your social media to keep the account regularly updated and showcase your thought leadership. Use a social media aggregator like Hootsuite to publish to all of your accounts at once. You can also schedule posts ahead of time to be more efficient.
- This may not seem like a first choice to many in law, but being an immigration law firm, you have a chance to capitalize on the fact that you work with many different cultures.
- When setting up your profile, be sure to sign up as a business versus an individual. This will allow you to include your website and contact information.
- As this is an image-focused platform, consider images that relate to the clients you’ve worked with (with their permission) and showcase how you’ve helped them.
- Post the image from your latest blog post and include a link in the description to send people to your site.
- If you have a fun culture within your firm, showcase this through photos of firm events, volunteering, etc.
- Take advantage of hashtags to show up in searches related to what you do and the target keywords you are using. Even if a user doesn’t follow you, but they follow a certain hashtag that you use, you’ll show up in their feed. And if you’re targeting a certain geographical area, be sure to use those geographical hashtags as well
- As a professional, you are likely already on this business-focused platform, but it’s important that you make certain your account is completely filled out.
- In the summary section at the top of your profile, be sure to include a thorough summary of who you are that includes keywords. LinkedIn profiles show up in searches on Google and other search engines, so use those keywords strategically!
- Fill out the contact information completely to include your website and other social media accounts.
- Regularly interact on the platform. This doesn’t mean you have to engage in lengthy conversations, but do make an effort to check your newsfeed every so often and “Like” others’ posts or leave comments.
- Keep your own profile regularly updated with posts that include your own blog posts, special firm announcements, or third-party links you find interesting. If someone interacts with these, always be sure to respond accordingly.
- Take advantage of LinkedIn’s publishing option. After a blog post has been sitting on your website for a couple of days, copy and paste it into LinkedIn and republish it there, including a link back to your original post on your website.
- Join and participate in Groups on LinkedIn. In these forums, you’ll be able to keep your finger on the pulse of your profession or even be able to answer questions for those who need guidance. This can greatly expand your network.
- Twitter allows you to share information in chunks of 280 characters. This can include your blog posts, announcements, videos, and photographs.
- Make use of hashtags that will help you get in front of others. With Twitter, you only fall into the newsfeeds of direct followers and those who have searches set up around specific hashtags. It will be important that you use hashtags as you get started to help grow your follower-base.
- Use Twitter search to find people asking questions that you may be able to answer. Plenty of people go to Twitter with their legal issues, and you can be the person who comes in and helps them out, potentially securing a new client.
- Regularly check your mentions and retweets and be sure to respond to each and every one of these, even if it is just to say, “Thank you for the retweet.” These can go a long way to getting new followers and also signals to Twitter that you are an active user they can suggest to others.
- As much as is possible, use images when you tweet. Most links have an embedded image that shows up when you paste it into Twitter, but if an image doesn’t automatically show up, make a point to copy and use an image from the link to attract more attention.
- Completely fill out your profile information for your business page, including the About section. You can also take advantage of customizing your page to include a listing of the services you provide. Don’t forget to include a branded profile photo and banner image.
- Facebook also allows a call-to-action button that provides options like subscribing to a newsletter or calling the firm directly. Figure out what you want your CTA to be and take advantage of this button.
- Like Twitter, you can use this platform to post your videos, announcements, and blog posts to your followers.
- Also like Twitter, your posts will only show up in the newsfeeds of those who actively follow you, unless it is shared to their Facebook friends.
- Make use of hashtags to help you show up in related searches.
- Consider making use of Facebook ads and promoted posts to help you show up across more newsfeeds and encourage clicks.
- More and more people are choosing to learn about a subject via video versus reading. Take advantage of this shift.
- YouTube is owned by Google, and Google likes it when you play with their toys. By having videos embedded on your site that are hosted through YouTube, you help improve your search ranking on Google.
- When creating your channel, be sure to fill out all areas in the channel description and include links to all of your other social media and link back to your website. Also, make certain your profile image and channel banner are inline with your branding.
- Like with blog posts, the content in your videos should be useful and high-quality.
- While you can go to a studio and have a video professionally produced, it is not a necessity. Most mobile phones these days have high-resolution cameras that allow you to take great videos, and you can access platforms online to help with post-production. In fact, YouTube has cobbled together some platforms that you can use to help create your first videos.
- Opinions vary on what length of video is best. At a minimum, you should try for two minutes. Most people have shorter attention spans these days, so you don’t want to go too long, but you at least want to cover your topic thoroughly.
- Set a production schedule for yourself, and stick to it.
- Write a keyword-optimized title and description under each video on YouTube that also includes links to your other social media and your website.
- Choose a great thumbnail image that shows the still image preview on YouTube. It can be a screenshot from the video, or you can create a branded slide that is used across all your videos to create a cohesive look.
- Take advantage of the Tags section and use your primary keywords as well as related phrases that people might use to search for the subject your video covers.
- At the end of your videos, include a call-to-action slide that is firm-branded. This slide can also encourage viewers to “Like” the video and “Subscribe” to your channel.
Email Marketing for Immigration Lawyers
Email is a tried and true method used in digital marketing campaigns. One of the earliest forms of digital marketing, it allows you to send information directly to those you wish to target. And with today’s technologies, it has never been easier to track your electronic messages.
While you can create your own emails from scratch through your email host, most professionals use email management platforms like Constant Contact or MailChimp. These cloud-based systems allow you to create targeted lists, build branded templates, and assess the success of your campaigns by seeing who opened your emails and clicked through them, and how often they did so. By viewing these statistics, you can better see:
- Who may be in the decision-making stage of the sales cycle – If you see that certain people come back to the same topics or have clicked through to your site, this provides an opportunity to follow up.
- Which topics are generating the most interest – Look to see which posts get the most engagement, and you will know which topics to continue writing around or expand upon.
- Which aspects of your emails are most successful – Email marketing is trial-and-error, and by determining who clicked where within your emails, you can better determine what should stay and what should go, as every bit of space in these emails is precious.
Another benefit of email marketing is that there are a variety of forms it can take, depending on your needs, including:
- Email Newsletter. This is probably the most common means of email marketing. You can include blog posts, firm announcements, upcoming events, profession-related news, and more. Typically these branded newsletters are sent on a routine basis, most commonly monthly or quarterly. They help you stay top-of-mind with your readers and remind them that you are there to assist with their immigration law needs.
- Announcements. In the event of major news for the firm or any other special message that you feel is pertinent to your readers, announcements are one-time emails that are sent to your list, or just a segment of your list. These can be branded or designed to look similar to standard emails.
- Targeted Messages. These are done on a one-to-one basis and not sent to a large list. If there is a warm lead, consider creating a targeted message that addresses their needs, details how you can assist them, and includes an offer to meet with them to discuss their matter further. The same message can be used for several people, but you want to send these one at a time in order to customize and personalize each message accordingly.
Analytics Basics for Immigration Attorneys
As you’ve gone through this guide, it is likely you have already begun implementing some of the suggestions made – and that’s great! But how will you know what’s working and what could be tweaked? This is where analytics come into play. Pretty much every platform you use has an analytics tool in some form, with some being more in-depth than others.
- Social Media Analytics. Each platform has its own set of analytics you can review. When you log into your individual accounts, find and view your analytics to see which posts are doing well and which ones aren’t quite up to snuff. Depending on the platform, you can see the time of day that garners the most interaction and the demographics of those interacting. Take these insights and let them guide you in the creation of future posts.
- Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Trying to figure out what works to drive traffic to your site can be confusing. Thankfully, Google has created two tools that allow you to both analyze your traffic and find ways to improve it. Google Analytics shows you comprehensive data on who is visiting your site, what sort of devices they use, how they behave on your site, and more. Pouring through this information, you can glean what sorts of content you need more of and whether you’re attracting the types of visitors you want. Going into Google Analytics for the first time can be intimidating, but luckily, Google has created Google Analytics Academy to help you learn the ropes. Google Search Console provides insights into how your website looks to search engines and what you can do to improve your search ranking results. The information in here is typically geared toward WebMasters, so be aware that it might be too technical for some. Both Search Console and Analytics are free to use but require that you take the time to manually connect them to your website – they aren’t automatically connected. If you aren’t prone to being technical, it is advised that you reach out to a qualified web developer or the person who runs your website to help you get these connected and implemented properly.
Reputation Management for Immigration Lawyers
While direct referrals will likely always be the way you attain most of your best clients, there are still many who go to the internet to find someone to help them. And when they look online, they pay attention to the many different directories, profiles, and review sites that are out there.
It’s critical that you claim and create online profiles on the most respected and most commonly trafficked legal profile sites and garner reviews where you can. If online searchers know nothing else about you, these are what they will use to make a judgment about whether or not to reach out to you.
The following are sites where it is recommended that you create a profile. Be sure to fill out every bit of information, as the more you include, and the more you contribute, the more likely your profile is to show up in a search. As a bonus, creating these profiles, as discussed previously, helps with SEO for your website when you link back.
Along with the legal-specific sites listed above, you should also pay attention to Google My Business and Yelp. While many people may not think about leaving reviews on the legal sites, they will be aware of Google Reviews and Yelp reviews and may turn to these to leave their thoughts.
Unfortunately, the nature of the beast is often for people to vent their frustrations before they relay when they had a good experience. Because of this, it is up to you to actively seek out legitimate positive reviews from clients to help counter any potential negatives.
The idea of soliciting reviews is off-putting to many, and that’s understandable. However, in today’s world, where these reviews hold so much water, it’s a necessary evil. And don’t worry, there are ways to get reviews without going out and shaking down clients, including:
- Just Ask. It’s simple and direct, but why not just ask a client if they would mind leaving a review? If you know your client has had a positive experience, take advantage of this and simply let them know you would appreciate an online review of your services. Then, provide them with links to the different sites where you have a profile and allow them to take it from there.
- Include Links in Your Newsletter. If you have a newsletter that you send out, start including a section where you ask people to leave a review of their experience and provide links.
- Include Links in Your Email Signature. As with the newsletter, make it easy for clients you’re communicating with to access review links by simply including them in your email signature.
- Make it a Standard Part of Closing Out a Matter. As part of your process, make it routine that once a matter is put to rest, you send a follow-up to the client and politely request a review, including the links for their convenience.
When you do get reviews, it’s important to always respond to them, even if they are negative. Often, a professional response to a negative review can have just as good an impact as a positive review. This is because it shows you are listening and are addressing concerns. Never let an opportunity to respond to someone pass you by.
As you can see, there are plenty of online marketing opportunities that you can take advantage of that cost little or nothing other than your time. Make a point to sit down and create a plan of attack so you don’t miss out on all that is available to you. By implementing even a small portion of what has been suggested in this digital marketing guide for immigration attorneys, you can have a significant impact on your SEO and the impression you make online and potentially garner some of your best clients.